The Handmaid’s Tale

The name Margaret Atwood i am familiar with. I’m pretty sure i read some of her books in the 80s. Borrowing them from the library. I don’t think i have read The Handmaid’s Tale though. I am reading it right now. It is written in a clean language. Not many adjectives. Words describing the world, the people, their acts. A dystopian novel, about a future land called Gilead. Not smashed to pieces, not dirty. Clean, bright. The biggest problem? Babies. Getting them. It is difficult.

So a new world. A strict world. A delineated world. All people are put in a specific cast and are dressed the same. The handmaids wear red dresses. The wives wear blue dresses. Handmaids are raped once a month in their fertile moment by their owner in the company of his barren wife, grabbing their hands while the owner thrusts his cock inside the maid.

CHAPTER ONE

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone. A balcony ran around the room, for the spectators, and I thought I could smell, faintly like an afterimage, the pungent scent of sweat, shot through with the sweet taint of chewing gum and perfume from the watching girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in mini-skirts, then pants, then in one earring, spiky green-streaked hair. Dances would have been held there; the music lingered, a palimpsest of unheard sound, style upon style, an undercurrent of drums, a forlorn wail, garlands made of tissue-paper flowers, cardboard devils, a revolving ball of mirrors, powdering the dancers with a snow of light.

There was old sex in the room and loneliness, and expectation, of something without a shape or name. I remember that yearning, for something that was always about to happen and was never the same as the hands that were on us there and then, in the small of the back, or out back, in the parking lot, or in the television room with the sound turned down and only the pictures flickering over lifting flesh.

The television series The Handmaid’s Tale started showing 26 April 2017. Three episodes were released the first day. Yesterday, Wednesday, was the fifth episode. It is absolutely exquisite. Scary. Horrific. Familiar. Strange.

Elisabeth Moss plays the main character of Offred/June. You hear her voice, her thoughts spoken out through all the scenes. Alexis Bledel plays another handmaid. Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski play the Commander and his Wife, the owners of Offred.

The five episodes i have seen so far are highly recommended. Reading the reviews is a favorite pasttime. I mostly go to the A.V. Club and check their Handsmaid’s Tale page.

Hulu, The Handmaid’s Tale, Wednesday stream

This series is renewed for a second season in 2018.

Reviews

Book review

Published on May 12, 2017 at 6:00 by

In between

Today i felt exhausted. I hardly slept last night. My mind is racing, thoughts jumping over each other. So i’m skipping today.

See you tomorrow!

Published on May 11, 2017 at 6:00 by

I want

  • to dance in the shops and the streets on the music played there
  • to sing out loud on the streets all over the world
  • to live!
  • to buy the land for the vegetable gardens so people don’t have to worry about it being build upon
  • to have all the schools have gardens for the children to learn how plants grow and how to cook them and how lovely they taste
  • to get more money for the Peace Garden for the new greenhouse
  • to not leave my own house because i can not pay the mortgage anymore
  • to fall in love with a man who loves me back and look him in the eye and see how vulnerable we both are
  • to fight for this world to be a better place with more hope for all the people
  • to be happy!
  • to slowly loose more weight so i can stop taking these stupid diabetes medicines and wear my old clothes once again!
  • to smile and twirl and hug and kiss and love and go yay yay yay!
  • to meet people and talk with them and ask questions and be there for them
  • to travel and visit places around the world and try to make them be better
  • to be filthy rich and use that money to try to do good
  • to be quiet and watch all the things around me
  • to be free!
  • to go AAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!
Published on May 10, 2017 at 6:00 by

A crowded Sunday

A week ago i was pulling out thistles. I was using a small spade, sticking it in the ground close to the root, using the palm of my hand to push it in deep. I got a blister. I found out when i removed my gardening gloves. It was already open. It was a bit hurtful the first few days. I can still feel it right now, but the hurt is gone. The first few days i was a bit more careful getting out weeds. Still, my first blister! Something to be proud of.
Halfway the gardening time we walked to the big market square. There were big screens up where people could watch the Excelsior-Feijenoord game. Feijenoord is hopefully going to win the KNVB Cup. Not today though, they lost: 3 - 0.
People climbed all the structures places on the market square.
Mostly young people. And lots of beer.

Stadslandbouwkas “De Oude Beer”
Through a link on facebook i saw a movie about a big city greenhouse “De Oude Beer” in Dordrecht last week. The greenhouse has 4000 square meters inside and a 100 square meters outside space. No chemical fertilizer and pesticides are used. A lovely movie, about building up the garden, weeding and seeding and planting. And peppers!

More informatie about this project on their website: stadslandbouwdordrecht.nl/plattegrond/stadslandbouwkas-oude-beer

Published on May 8, 2017 at 6:00 by

A completed life

The Dutch party D66 is advocate of a law which will enable elderly to end their life when they believe their life is completed. The elderly are people of 75 years or older. This is different from the euthanasia law, which is build on a medical perspective.

In March 2017 in the Dutch program Nieuwsuur Alexander Pechtold was interviewed for almost an hour. There were also some people invited to ask a question. Martin Kock was one of those people. He has a death wish, but is still 18 years younger than 75. He wants to know why he can not make his own decision.

I saw this episode later on. For a couple of days this topic was trending in the news shows on Dutch television. I didn’t follow it at the time, but it did stick in my mind. Parts of me were puzzled by the question. It is also a strange topic for me. I don’t have any desire to make an end of my life. I enjoy it with all intensity.

I found another clip on youtube where Martin Kock talks to the camera and explains more about his wish.

Later on in the program De Wereld Draait Door there was a discussion between Pechtold and Segers, the list puller of the Christen Union.

The past few months this topic stayed with me. At one point i talked with my mother about it. Did she know anyone around her who felt her life was complete. No. This doesn’t mean all, of course. Most people will not talk about this. So you will not know it if someone does feel this desire.

An article in the Groene, Extra Bingo Is Geen Oplossing (1 June 2016 ). Decay, loneliness, loss. The ingredients of a completed life. A 2011 research of the VU University Medical Center Amsterdam showed that a hundred thousand elderly people in the Netherlands have a death wish or a diminished will to live.

What is a completed life? It seems to me a life full of accomplished wishes, full of life, work, friends. A moment in life where you look back upon it and feel happy with the work you have done. It can be big things or small things. It can be having had a family and enjoying your grand children or great grand children.

This is not the completed life which is meant here. Existential loneliness, is the term here. A feeling of uselessness, loneliness, a burden upon society, a burden upon your family, if you have any. Death seems the only way out. Death is more pleasing than the vision of being dependent on lowly payed young people leaving you sitting in your own shit for hours, if not days. Live is unlivable.

A major problem hinted at in this article and Voltooid leven vraagt ander antwoord dan dood is that older people feel themselves standing outside society. Not being included in, not being able to use your skills to help other people makes you feel unworthy. The distance between yourself and the working society grows with each year.

The articles i found today are very helpful and gives a lot more depth and background to my thinking.

Last Sunday i had a talk with Daniël about this very same subject. I was still a bit concerned about the question being asked. As if you need permission from the government to make an end to your life. I think there is a limit to the influence of government on the people. In the end, the life you lead is your own responsibility. Making an end to it is your own responsibility too. There are many ways to make an end to your life. Stop eating and drinking for one thing. To ask for a pill to make an end to your life is convenient, yes. But i don’t think politics goes into that area.

After reading the articles linked here, i am finding out there are many more issues involved here.

I am not able to give an answer here and now. I am seriously thinking about this. Weighing all the answers of other people, without getting to a definite yes or no. Balancing.

So i will leave this post here.

To be continued.

Published on May 5, 2017 at 6:00 by

Mailchimp

Today, i was thinking while i walked to the market. A short thought. The plugin i tried yesterday i didn’t like. I remembered seeing a Mailchimp plugin for WordPress. I do like Mailchimp. I just checked on their website, they started in 2001. I must have known about them since 2003, 2004? So yes, i picked Mailchimp. The free option goes up to 2000 subscribers, which seems plenty for me. And i do like the templates and the whole look of their website.

I still have a couple of days to work on a template and do some tests. I will write the email myself. Using photos from the website, write a short bit or copy paste a bit from the text. Depends on the post. I will send an email out once a week, each Friday. It will have links to the five posts i made that week. So the first one goes out this Friday, 5 May. I will pick out a template and fill the email up over the week.

I am curious. I don’t expect that many sign-ups, but i do hope a few people will.

If you do want to subscribe to my new newsletter, please fill in the form below. You do not need to fill in your name if you don’t want to.




I will add this form to my footer. Hopefully sometime this week. I will make some other changes too.

Published on May 3, 2017 at 6:00 by

Standstill

I am working on setting up a newsletter for ellenpronk.com. A once a week sent newsletter with the five posts of the week, sent on Friday. Today i installed the plugin and did some tests. I do want to test it a bit further and see how i can get cron jobs to work good on my server.

In the afternoon i decided i needed more time, so i had to think of another posts for tomorrow. The I Ching popped up and i felt it was a good one to put up.

Just yet i sat down on the floor. Sitting quiet for a short while. Listening to the sound of the cars outside. My cat finding a place on the couch the lay and fall asleep. I had just given him his insulin. I only sat down for a minute or two.

Then i threw my coins.

I got some difficult signs. Obstruction is the first one, number 39.

Today i felt tired. I didn’t sleep well. Not that bit of a difference with other nights to be honest. But, i was really tired today. I did do some work on the newsletter plugin, a few tests. I also read A History of God written by Karen Armstrong. I enjoy reading this book. Halfway now, i’m curious to the more recent history of the last few centuries.

The hexagram pictures a dangerous abyss lying before us and a steep, inaccessible mountain rising behind us. We are surrounded by obstacles; at the same time, since the mountain has the attribute of keeping still, there is implicit a hint as to how we can extricate ourselves. The hexagram represents obstructions that appear in the course of time but that can and should be overcome. Therefore all the instruction given is directed to overcoming them.

I do recognize this bit. Obstacles behind me and a dangerous abyss in front of me. The special lines all point to the same thing. All say the same thing.

Going leads to obstructions

The end sign is Standstill.

Withdraw into seclusion

Reminds me of the phone call i got today. Someone from an agency in Amsterdam got my name from LinkedIn. They were looking for people in the Rotterdam area for some clients. I wasn’t opposed to it, but i did say i wouldn’t want to work at a bank or a commercial company. I don’t think i will hear much from them. Still, you never know. I also said i worked in a garden for two days a week. Good for me.

😛

I watched the chess game i still have standing on my table. Two peons standing opposite each other. No idea how this game will go on. If it will. I do enjoy having it standing there though.

Time for me to get ready to go to bed. Enjoy today!

Published on May 2, 2017 at 6:00 by

A gardening Sunday

The harvest!
Most of the work done today was in our second garden. Same as last Friday. It really needs it.
More weeding done in the bed with the leeks. Planted broad beans in the middle of it. The ground near the train rails was emptied as well. We planted blackberries last year to make it grow there.
The blackberry bush
Newly planted broad beans
A bumblebee
Weeds still to work at
A lovely yellow flower in between the weeds. No idea if this can stay or should go.
And more weeds
Daniël hard at work in between the apple trees
Julien planting New Sealand spinach
An overview of the garden we worked on today
Published on May 1, 2017 at 6:00 by